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ISSN 1855-3966 (printed edn.), ISSN 1855-3974 (electronic edn.)

ARS MATHEMATICA CONTEMPORANEA 8 (2015) 291–295

Counterexamples to a conjecture on
injective colorings∗
ˇ
Borut Luˇzar , Riste Skrekovski
Faculty of Information Studies, Novo mesto, Slovenia,
Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Mechanics, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Received 23 July 2013, accepted 5 May 2014, published online 5 February 2015

Abstract
An injective coloring of a graph is a vertex coloring where two vertices receive distinct
colors if they have a common neighbor. Chen, Hahn, Raspaud, and Wang [3] conjectured
that every planar graph with maximum degree ∆ ≥ 3 admits an injective coloring with at
most d3∆/2e colors. We present an infinite family of planar graphs showing that the conjecture is false for graphs with small or even maximum degree. We conclude this note with
an alternative conjecture, which sheds some light on the well-known Wegner’s conjecture
for the mentioned degrees.
Keywords: Injective coloring, planar graph, square graph.
Math. Subj. Class.: 05C10, 05C15

1

Introduction

An injective k-coloring of a graph G is a mapping c : V (G) → {1, 2, . . . , k} such that
c(u) 6= c(v) for every pair of distinct vertices u, v ∈ V (G) having a common neighbor.
The least k such that G is injectively k-colorable is the injective chromatic number of G,
denoted by χi (G). Note that this type of coloring is not necessarily proper.
ˇ anˇ and
The injective coloring of graphs was first introduced by Hahn, Kratochv´ıl, Sir´
Sotteau [7] in 2002. The first results on the injective chromatic number of planar graphs
were presented by Doyon, Hahn and Raspaud [6] in 2005. As a corollary of the main
theorem they obtained that if G is a planar graph of maximum degree ∆ and girth g(G) ≥
7, then the injective chromatic number is at most ∆ + 3. Moreover, if g(G) ≥ 6 then
χi (G) ≤ ∆+4, and if g(G) ≥ 5 then χi (G) ≤ ∆+8. Chen, Hahn, Raspaud, and Wang [3]
investigated K4 -minor-free graphs and showed that if G is such a graph of maximum degree
∆, then χi (G) ≤ d 23 ∆e. Moreover, they conjectured that the same bound holds for all
planar graphs:
∗ Partially

supported by ARRS Program P1-0383 and Creative Core - FISNM - 3330-13-500033.
ˇ
E-mail addresses: borut.luzar@gmail.com (Borut Luˇzar), skrekovski@gmail.com (Riste Skrekovski)

c b This work is licensed under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

the injective chromatic number of a graph is at most ∆ + C. where C is some small constant. [1.1. and 32 ∆ + 1. and at most 2 ∆ + 1. if ∆ = 3.2 (Wegner). 5. however.1 (Chen. Thus providing counterexamples to Conjecture 1. The chro2 matic number  3  of square graph G is at most 7. When considering graphs of girth smaller than 5 the injective chromatic number considerably increases. 8]) showing that if the girth of a planar graph is at least 5. it holds that   3 χi (G) ≤ ∆ . 4. Conjecture 1. 8 (2015) 291–295 Figure 1: A planar graph with maximum degree ∆ and girth 4 that needs 32 ∆ colors for an injective coloring. if ∆ = 3. In Fig. 2. Note that for larger ∆. In this note we present examples of planar graphs withmaximum degree ∆ ≥ 4 and  injective chromatic number ∆ + 5.292 Ars Math. otherwise. Raspaud. The central problem regarding the chromatic number of squares of planar graphs is the well-known Wegner’s conjecture [9] proposed in 1977. 7} and for every even ∆ ≥ 8.1. For every planar graph G with maximum degree ∆ ≥ 1. if 4 ≤ ∆ ≤ 7. for 4 ≤ ∆ ≤ 7. the bound of this conjecture is one more than that of Conjecture 1. 1 a planar graph of girth 4 and injective chromatic number 32 ∆ is depicted. at most ∆ + 5. We believe that the bound for graphs with maximum degree 3 is correct. There is a number of results (see e. and Wang). Conjecture 1. Contemp. 6. Hahn.g. Theorem 2. for ∆ ≥ 8. 2 The conjecture holds for planar graphs with large girth.1 for every ∆ ∈ {4.1 for planar graphs with maximum degree at most 7 or even. 5. . Let G be a planar graph with maximum degree ∆. There exist planar graphs G of maximum degree ∆ ≥ 3 satisfying the following: (a) χi (G) = 5. 2 Planar graphs with largest injective chromatic numbers Using the following result we easily disprove Conjecture 1.

In Fig. . Note that these graphs are of diameter 2 and of orders 9. For ∆ ≥ 4. (b) χi (G) = ∆ + 5. if 4 ≤ ∆ ≤ 7. Luˇzar and R. Figure 3: Planar graphs with diameter 2 and maximum degree ∆ ∈ {4. and 2. . a cubic planar graph with the injective chromatic number equal to 5 was presented in [3] (see Fig. . . G has diameter 2. For ∆ = 3.   (c) χi (G) = 23 ∆ + 1. 9} are presented. and 14. if and only if 1. . Skrekovski: Counterexamples to a conjecture on injective colorings 293 Figure 2: A planar cubic graph with the injective chromatic number 5.ˇ B. 13. 10. 2). the case (a) of the theorem. if ∆ ≥ 8. i. 3 planar graphs with maximum degree ∆ ∈ {4. . .e. respectively. . 11.. every edge of G belongs to a triangle. Proof. the following simple characterization will be used: (∗) A graph G has injective chromatic number equal to its order. 12. . 9}.

it is enough that each vertex of these paths is incident with one edge of the path. Then we insert the paths Pa = a1 a2 · · · ak . where each edge belongs to a 3-cycle. we conclude that each of them satisfies the identity of the case (b) of the theorem. so roughly every second is redundant. and Pc are not really needed to obtain a graph with the desired properties. w and the vertices ai . It is easy to see that there is a path of length two between every pair of vertices. maximum degree ∆ ≥ 8. 4 has maximum degree ∆ = 2k + 2 and the right one has ∆ = 2k + 3. proving Wegner’s conjecture would imply the truth of Conjecture 2. for k ≥ 3. 4 for an illustration). Pb . Moreover. For example in the last construction all the edges of the paths Pa . These additional edges are providing paths of length two between the vertices u. 8. 8 (2015) 291–295 ak bk ak v a2 b1 c2 b2 a1 c1 u v a2 b2 a1 bk b1 c1 w ck+1 u c2 w ck+1 ck+2 Figure 4: Constructions of diameter 2 planar graphs with maximum degree ∆ ≥8 (even on the left and odd on the right) and the injective chromatic number equal to 32 ∆ + 1. Then (a) χi (G) ≤ 5. bi . 5. if ∆ ≥ 8. thus every vertex in the graph should receive a different color in an injective coloring. and ci . if 4 ≤ ∆ ≤ 7. We give for planar graphs with diameter 2. and Pc = c1 c2 · · · ck+1 (if ∆ is odd.294 Ars Math. Finally. Contemp. By (∗). 6. In both cases we start with a path uvw.2. the claim (c) of the theorem immediately follows. and 9. 7. they have the property that each of their edges belongs to a 3-cycle. Since the injective chromatic number is at most equal to the chromatic number of the square of a graph. We conclude the paper with an attempt to correct Conjecture 1. If . and  constructions  order 23 ∆ + 1. Pb = b1 b2 · · · bk . Let G be a planar graph with maximum degree ∆. we introduce also the edge ck+1 ck+2 ). We distinguish two cases regarding whether ∆ is even or odd (see Fig. In fact. we consider the case (c) of the theorem.1 by proposing the following Wegner type conjecture for the injective chromatic number of planar graphs: Conjecture 2. if ∆ = 3. Let us remark that the presented graphs from the above theorem are not the only ones with such properties.2. it follows that each of them has chromatic index equal to its order. v. (b) χi (G) ≤ ∆ + 5. The left graph depicted in Fig.   (c) χi (G) ≤ 23 ∆ + 1. Then by (∗). As these graphs have maximum degree 4. respectively.

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